ROSENBERG, Texas (KTRK) -- According to the Texas Medical Association, the Lone Star state is the uninsured capital of the United States with a rate 1.75 times higher than the national average. According to the 2020 census numbers, approximately 15.3% of people living in Fort Bend County are uninsured. It's a population the San Jose Clinic is working tirelessly to serve.
Darryl Dewayne Williams, who lives in Stafford, said he feels like he got a second chance at life after spending four years behind bars. But he admits the rebuilding process hasn't been easy while he's on parole. He has a mass in his chest and needs to get a biopsy done, something he said impacts his day-to-day life.
"I first noticed something was wrong back in 2005. I passed out in downtown Houston, coming from work. I get shortness of breath and dizziness. Sometimes I see spots before my eyes if I don't calm myself down. Sometimes, I can't even exercise. It goes on for like a week or two. That's the longest it's ever hurt me," he said.
Williams finally found some medical support at the San Jose Clinic in Rosenberg, where he's been a patient since May. The nonprofit organization provides primary and preventative health care to uninsured people who live below 250% of the federal poverty line. That's a combined annual income of $45,775 for a household of two, with an additional $11,800 for each family member.
"Our patients come to us with very advanced chronic diseases. They've neglected their health care for so long, because they have other life challenges they've had to focus on," Dr. Adlia Ebeid, chief clinical officer at San Jose Clinic, said. "We do this all under the charity umbrella with very generous donations from the community and philanthropic contributions."
San Jose Clinic is a place that has a personal meaning to Ebeid, where she's volunteered and worked for the last 14 years. After her mom had a heart attack in 1998, she said the staff at the Midtown location made it possible for Ebeid's mom to receive care and affordable medication.
"We fell on some hard times in trying to navigate the healthcare system and finding care where she could be seen for all her chronic issues. We didn't have a lot of resources and so personally, I was taking out loans from tuition to help pay for her medication costs," she said. "We went from having to pay $3,000 a quarter to just $10 through the San Jose Clinic. If they could do what they did for my mom and impact my life so vastly, I can only imagine what they can do for the masses. So I really wanted to be included, some way or another."
Ebeid said there are a number of reasons why someone might be uninsured, but the main reason is affordability. According to their 2021 annual report, 77% of patients served were Hispanic and Latino, 14% were African American, 7% were White and Non-Hispanic, and 2% were Asian.
"We have to be mindful that for some people, this is not their native culture, language, or religion. So they're already kind of displaced from their comfort zone and having to navigate a lot of challenges -- school systems, workforce, and acquiring food on top of healthcare," Ebeid said. "There's a lot of stereotypical thoughts that allude to the fact that health care or quality health care is for the affluent and we just need to change that conversation. Healthcare is an essential need."
This year, San Jose Clinic will celebrate 100 years at their Midtown location and two years at their Rosenberg clinic. They opened their second location after realizing there was a need for their services in the area during their Hurricane Harvey outreach.
In addition to their medical services, they also provide additional resources such as transportation, dental services, and specialty providers. Their goal ultimately is to extend their reach to underserved populations.
"One of the areas we really wanted to focus on are social determinants of health. We're looking at what else impacts the patient's ability to seek care. We want to make sure that we eliminate any barriers," Ebeid said.
As for Williams, he says he's just thankful he has somewhere to turn for his health care needs.
"They've really helped me here. I've gotten my shots and my teeth fixed too. I think people would be in a lot of trouble without organizations like the San Jose clinic, period," he said.